Underrated Disney World Restaurants That Deserve Way More Attention

Underrated Dining Feature Image of Kids at Boma Buffet Line
Credit: Disney

Plenty of dining designations can be found all around Walt Disney World Resort, throughout the four theme parks, at various Disney Resort locations, and even within bustling Disney Springs. Some establishments are so incredibly renowned, that they make it onto the must-do lists of both seasoned Guests and first-time visitors alike. While it’s understandable for a long-time Disney Guest to be set in their well-loved dining picks and for newbies to want to try out everything headlined as bright and shiny, the surprising reality is that some of the very best full-service table restaurants throughout Disney World are actually among the most underrated, under-appreciated, and underutilized picks around. That pegs them somewhat as hidden gems, so to speak, given their esoteric nature, oftentimes less-crowded atmosphere, and delicious menu medleys that boast bounty and competitive pricing for the quality they present. Here’s a look into some of the most underrated Disney World restaurants that deserve way more attention.

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Jungle Skipper Canteen

It’s surprising just how underrated this Adventureland restaurant is, given the popularity of the corresponding Jungle Cruise attraction it is so themed after. And to be honest, many of the other dining establishments throughout Magic Kingdom Park get far too much attention yet don’t even hold a candle to Jungle Skipper Canteen. It really is a hidden gem where dining is concerned. Not only do you get a fun-themed, elaborate setup with servers who are supposedly “off-duty” skippers running the show, but the menu is laden with so many profuse and palatable options as well. That’s because the cuisine primarily highlights international fusion flavors inspired by Africa, Asia, and the American continents. As a result, you can expect an array of novelty features, many of which contain the same fun puns in their naming that you know and love about all Jungle Cruise associations.

Jungle Skipper Canteen

Credit: Disney

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Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Disney World has its fair share of Italian table-service restaurants, but this one over at Hollywood Studios has a tendency to be largely overlooked. And it’s a real shame, too, because this is probably my favorite Italian restaurant on location at any Disney Park. All the same, its off-the-beaten-path location may cause some folks to forget it’s even there. Other times, it gets passed over in favor of more overt, popular picks.

For those who have ever dined here, though, you already know you’re in for a real treat. The restaurant follows the theme of being a backlot location that was transformed into a restaurant by an actress hopeful from Italy, who later discovered great joy in cooking her Papa’s classic Sicilian specialties for other extras on the set between shooting various bit parts in movies. That woman became known as “Mama Melrose.”

The food at Mama Melrose’s is exceptional, with plenty of conventional offerings and various house specialties alike. And the portions are pretty generous and the pricing is relatively decent too. It’s a casual and relaxed atmosphere rather than that stuffy signature one, and it works just fine within the Hollywood Studios setup.

Mama Melrose Interior

Credit: Disney

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Terralina Crafted

In continuing the look into the Disney World Italian food scene, I should mention the fact that so many people are prone to thinking first and foremost about the Italy Pavilion in the World Showcase at EPCOT as the primary go-to for such fare. While Disney Springs doesn’t always come to mind, some notable establishments may also stand out here, like Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante with its triad team that also includes Pizza Ponte and Enzo’s Hideaway. But there is also another, sometimes under-appreciated Italian establishment on the scene as well—Terralina Crafted. You’ll find Terralina Crafted located along the waterfront of The Landing. With décor and theming that draws inspiration from Italy’s Lake District, the scenic draw and the delicious food presentations are enough to entice anyone. As for the menu, you can enjoy a masterful culmination of Italian classics curated by James Beard Award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano. And as you’d expect, it’s all exceptional.

Interior of Terralina Crafted

Credit: Terralina Crafted

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Somehow this cleverly themed dining venue at Hollywood Studios tends to get lost in the shuffle. But it has so much going for it. As far as theming is concerned, the restaurant is modeled after an old drive-in movie theater set under a perpetually star-studded evening sky. Incorporating a large “outdoor” screen showcasing campy old horror film trailers on a loop is a nice added touch, as are the dining tables modeled after vintage cars. They even have working headlights!

While touted as classic Americana fare, the food also features many unique featured callouts and novelties. Included on the menu, there are even plant-based alternatives and allergy-friendly variations.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

Credit: Disney

Yak & Yeti Restaurant

I will never understand why this personal favorite of mine over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park isn’t more popular. Specializing in Pan-Asian cuisine, this table-service establishment takes on a themed continuation of the motif set in place by the renowned Expedition Everest attraction.

If you like traditional Asian cuisine and even American classics with a twist (like their Kobe Burger), you must check this convenient eatery out for yourself. And for what you get in dining here, the portions are all generous and the pricing is more than fair.

Yak & Yeti Interior

Credit: Disney

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Olivia’s Café

Disney’s Old Key West Resort is somewhat more removed than most other Disney Resorts. So, it goes without saying that this quaint resident café, which specializes in homestyle comfort cuisine, would also go largely unnoticed. But there’s just so much to love about this place, from the Floridian-inspired menu to the laid-back beachy feel. And it’s just one of those places where everyone in your dining party can rightly find satisfaction and mealtime relaxation.

Olivia's Cafe Interior

Credit: Disney

Sebastian’s Bistro

Over at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, there’s this other sorely unappreciated table-service restaurant. Featuring family-style meals that draw influence from fusion flavors of Latin cuisine and Island-style Caribbean classics, Sebastian’s Bistro truly is one of the most delightful dining designations to be had at any Disney Resort.

Despite its name and short of a couple of callouts, Sebastian’s Bistro is not overly themed after the beloved namesake crab featured in The Little Mermaid (1989). Instead, a light, breezy, laid-back Island atmosphere draws you in and makes your overall experience comfortable and enjoyable. And don’t worry about any price shockers at the end of your meal, because despite providing an all-you-care-to-enjoy setup, this is one of the cheapest offerings, with adult pricing starting at just $35 plus tax and gratuity!

Sebastian's Bistro

Credit: Vegan Disney World

Geyser Point Bar & Grill

Whether it’s the open-air setup of this eatery at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or the fact that it shares familiar turf with two popular dining designations, the reality is that Geyser Point Bar & Grill doesn’t get nearly the credit it’s due. It’s a shame, given both its boastful quality in food and drink presentation and the scenic sights diners are treated to, overlooking Bay Lake. Furthermore, it’s easy and convenient to get to from Magic Kingdom Park, making it an optimal detour when you’re trying to seek a quieter, rustic escape of sorts that feels far removed but actually isn’t. And in getting back to the surprisingly versatile provisions here, ranging from hearty fare to light bites alike, let it be known that Geyser Point Bar & Grill has excellent pricing for the value you get.

Geyser Point Bar & Grill

Credit: Disney

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Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa de Lago

Here’s another underrated open-air restaurant setup, this one on location at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. What’s more, it’s literally situated on the shimmering waters of Lago Dorado, on its own “island” of sorts. As a later-in-the-day operation that starts at 4:30 p.m., if you time it correctly, you can actually dine here at sunset and take in a tapestry of nature’s scenic canvas. And to pair with the presentation, you get to enjoy some of the most delicious light bite cuisine culminations, featuring the finest flavors of Spanish fusion/Latin-inspired enticements. And, of course, there are all those invigorating cocktails and other lavish libations to be enjoyed here as well. Let it also be known that in addition to spirited specialties, they also have a vast and versatile range of mocktails to savor.

Exterior Shot of Three Bridges Bar & Grill

Credit: Disney

Boatwright’s Hall 

Both Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—French Quarter have a lot of obvious palatable picks, but Boatwright’s at the Riverside location, specifically, is prone to falling off the radar for so many diners. Whether it’s the fact that this is strictly a dinnertime operation or it gets outshined by the French Quarter’s Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is unknown. But the end result is that this operation isn’t as widely publicized as it could be.

The building is designed to resemble a restored boat-construction warehouse, with the interior décor following suit in the overall motif. Look up and you may just see a suspended ship structure hanging from the ceiling! Despite it all, the atmosphere is rather quaint and rustic more so than industrial and intimidating—and the cozy brick fireplace and other nostalgic nautical callouts all provide welcoming touches. And as far as the food goes, this establishment has plenty to brag about in the way of traditional Creole and Cajun classics, all inspired by well-loved Louisiana staples, done up right. From Mardi Gras Fritters to Jambalaya and Deep South Shrimp and Grits, Boatwright’s Hall goes well beyond the Bayou basics to offer Guests some truly remarkable makings worth appreciating.

Dining Room at Boatwright's Hall

Credit: Mealtrip

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is hands down one of the most unique Disney Resorts you will ever find anywhere. Think about it. You have surrounding savannas and even a menagerie of exotic resident animals on location! And that’s in addition to all those other standout Disney Resort bragging points that come as part of the package. In getting back to the matter of animal residents who make their home here is one underrated dining location that literally lets you dine right next to them, providing unrivaled views up close and personal at that! I am, of course, referring to Sanaa. Known for its massive floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking one of the Resort’s savannas, this establishment also offers some absolutely scrumptious meals, inspired by traditional African flavors. They also have one of the best bread services around at that. With optimal views to accent an enjoyable meal, Dining at Sanaa is undoubtedly something that Disney Guests should try to pursue at least once.

Interior of Sanaa

Credit: Disney

Boma Flavors of Africa

Disney World is home to quite a few stellar buffet presentations. Yet, ironically enough, what is perhaps the most bountiful and arguably best buffet of all is also one of the most under-appreciated ones. Again, the focus is on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for this one and a look at the elaborate spread that’s Boma Flavors of Africa. Open for breakfast/early lunch and dinner daily, Boma truly does offer up a vast array of enticing vittles. And if you’re worried about the idea of gorging yourself solely on exotic eats, let it be known that Boma has a little something for everyone and then some. Rest assured that everyone in your party will be satisfied with a meal enjoyed on location here.

Interior Shot of Buffet at Boma

Credit: Disney

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So many vastly underrated Disney restaurants live in the shadow of more popular picks. While it’s a shame, to say the least, it’s also an opportunity for you as the ultimate Disney fan to explore these unassuming hidden gems. By enjoying these esoteric offerings personally, you feel an elite sense of privilege, like you’ve unlocked some massive secret in Disney dining.

About Laura

Laura Catherine aka “LC” is a writer who resides in Maryland with her family and several pets. She visits Walt Disney World whenever she can. Additionally, she is a published author of three novels, a children’s book, and has a passion for gardening.